Ofcom has announced several new proposals which will see the UK’s broadband infrastructure get an upgrade to full-fibre and obsolete the old copper network. The plans are currently in the consultation phase and the final decisions will be published in early 2021.
In order to introduce full-fibre to the whole of the UK, Ofcom said the £5 billion investment to connect rural areas being offered by the government will be accompanied by Ofcom’s plan to “vary [its] regulation for different parts of the country.” In addition, the regulator has proposed a four-point plan to support competitive investment in fibre networks, these points consist of the following items:
- Improving the business case for fibre investment, by setting Openreach’s wholesale prices in a way that encourages competition from new networks, as well as investment by Openreach.
- Protecting customers and driving competition, by making sure people can still access affordable broadband and preventing Openreach from stifling competition.
- Taking rural areas into the fast lane, by supporting investment by Openreach in these areas.
- Closing the copper network, as full-fibre is built, so Openreach does not have the unnecessary costs of running two parallel networks.
Ofcom’s Interim Chief Executive, Jonathan Oxley, said that the plans will help deliver full-fibre to the country by removing the remaining roadblocks companies face when it comes to investment and supporting competition. He said that incentivising telcos to deliver full-fibre to the whole country is necessary as people and businesses up and down the country depend on a reliable internet connection.